In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War the Western Allies – led by the US – soon found themselves at odds with the Communist Bloc dominated by the Soviet Union. In the well-known phrase coined by Winston Churchill, an ‘Iron Curtain’ had descended across Europe. In the shadow of this Iron Curtain a conflict of ideologies erupted, known as the Cold War.
Halfway across the globe, in the Caribbean, the island of Cuba had become a playground and haven for rich Americans, and organised crime flourished there under the umbrella provided by dictator Fulgencio Batista. Batista was ousted in a revolution led by Fidel Castro who although nominally non-aligned soon fell into the orbit of the Communist Bloc. After the failed US-sponsored Bay of Pigs invasion attempt of 1961, Castro’s Cuba sought ever-closer ties and security guarantees with the USSR.
Thus it was in 1962 that the US discovered evidence that the USSR was building military infrastructure in Cuba to support nuclear-armed ballistic missiles and Ilyushin bombers, protected by surface to air missiles, ground troops, anti-ship missiles and fast attack boats. For the US this was intolerable and preparations were made to destroy the missiles and invade the island. Cuba was placed under a naval quarantine and ships bound there were to be boarded and searched. The stage was set for what became known as the Cuban Missile Crisis and what many believe was perhaps the closest that the world has come to all out nuclear warfare between the two great Superpowers.
Volume 2 of Pigs, Missiles and the CIA continues the story of Cuba following the Bay of Pigs Invasion and examines the development and timeline of the missile crisis as events jumped between Washington, DC, Moscow, Havanna, and the seas and skies around Cuba in a deadly game of brinksmanship that came close to unleashing nuclear war upon the world. This volume is illustrated throughout with period photographs and specially commissioned colour artworks.